columns from the Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 4: Number 5, 1991.
The Editor of the Christian Research Newsletter is Ron Rhodes.
What's New in the Headlines
The Christian Science Church Stands to Gain Some $92 Million by Distributing an "Authorized Version" of a Long-Suppressed Book about Its Founder, Mary Baker Eddy.
According to the October 13 Boston Sunday Globe, "under provisions of three wills, the church will receive a bequest estimated to be worth between $75 million and $92 million if, by May 1993, it publishes and distributes 'The Destiny of the Mother Church,' which describes Eddy...as equal to Jesus and 'invested with deific power.'"
Christian Science dissidents complain that the cash-strapped sect is only selling the book to cover financial losses from its television, radio, and magazine enterprises, which could top $80 million this year alone.
Benny Hinn, Author of Good Morning, Holy Spirit, Admits to Mistakes in the Book.
When apologetics ministries (including CRI) pointed out theological problems in this book, Hinn initially responded by blasting his critics. He once said in reference to critics: "Sometimes I wish God would give me a Holy Ghost machine gun. [I'd] blow your head off."
But Hinn has had a change of heart, according to the October 28, 1991 issue of Christianity Today. According to the article, Hinn "repudiated many of his earlier, controversial statements and said the entire direction of his ministry is in the midst of fundamental reform. In a lengthy telephone interview with Christianity Today, which included Regent University professor of theology J. Rodman Williams, Hinn acknowledged that he has made theologically erroneous statements, and that his attitude toward those who have challenged him has left a lot to be desired."
Hinn said he regrets making the statement about the "Holy Ghost machine gun" and similar declarations. "At one time I felt that my teachings could not be challenged....I don't feel that way anymore." Now Hinn says, "Brother, I am teachable."
Hinn also said he regrets any theological confusion his book has caused. His next book, The Anointing, is being reviewed by trained theologians before being published next spring.
CRI will continue monitoring Hinn's publications and television broadcasts.
An Internal Mormon Church Memorandum Indicates that a Secret Satanic Sect Could Be Operating among the Church's Members, According to the November 1991 Salt Lake City Messenger.
The 12-page memo, dated July 1990, was written by General Authority Glenn L. Pace and describes the testimonies of 60 Mormons, most of them diagnosed as having Multiple Personality Disorder. The mostly female victims claim to have been ritually abused from childhood to early adulthood, mostly by other Mormons -- including parents, bishops, temple workers, and members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
In the memo, Pace acknowledged that the victims' stories are "so bizarre as to raise serious credibility questions," but adds that "when sixty witnesses testify to the same type of torture and murder, it becomes impossible for me, personally, not to believe them."
It is apparent from the memo that the church's hierarchy is troubled by the allegations and that various officials are studying the problem.
Mormon Membership Passes the 8 Million Mark.
According to the October 5 Mormon Church News, worldwide membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has reached 8 million people.
The growth landmark came only 22 months after the cult reached the 7 million mark in December of 1989. Mormon church statisticians estimate that the cult is growing at a rate of 1,500 new members per day.
"60 Minutes" Challenges Scientology on Prozac Issue.
Dennis H. Clarke, president of the Scientology front group called the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, claims to have documented over 130 violent deaths linked to Prozac, an antidepressant drug.
In investigating several of these cases, however, the October 27 edition of "60 Minutes" found strong evidence to suggest that the individuals in question had already shown signs of mental instability or suicidal behavior well before they started taking Prozac.
One expert interviewed said that one out of six people with depression actually commit suicide -- and that this has nothing to do with Prozac.
As part of their case against Prozac, Scientologists cite a report by Harvard psychiatrist Martin Teischert. Yet, Teischert says he is pro-Prozac, and that the Scientologists are distorting his report. In fact, he prescribes Prozac to his patients.
--Ron Rhodes and Paul Carden
"Sects" Vex Visiting Pope
In October the leader of the world's 1 billion Roman Catholics traveled to South America for a strenuous 10-day, 5,000-mile tour of the continent's largest nation. And while Brazil is supposedly home to more baptized Catholics than any other country, Pope John Paul II found a church in dire straits.
The causes of the church's woes are many, but in a public mass on the second day of his journey the pontiff took aim at militant Protestantism and opened fire.
"In a scorching blast at evangelical Protestant 'sects,' Pope John Paul II accused them...of seducing with 'false mirages' and misleading with 'distorted simplifications,'" reported the Los Angeles Times.
"He exhorted Brazilian bishops to stem the rapid expansion of rival religions in this traditionally Roman Catholic nation of 150 million people by leading a counter-campaign of Catholic evangelization."
There is good reason to doubt that such a campaign will bear much fruit.
- While 8 million Brazilian Catholics attend mass on a typical Sunday, 20 million Protestants are in church.
- The Catholic church in Brazil has an estimated 14,000 priests (including foreigners), while estimates of the number of Protestant pastors go as high as 40,000.
- 600,000 or more Brazilian Catholics convert to Protestantism each year.
And while the spectacular growth of evangelicalism as a whole deeply troubles Brazil's Catholic hierarchy, a chief target for the church's scorn is the "Universal Church of the Kingdom of God" (UCKG) -- and with some justification.
The Wall Street Journal reports: "Started in 1977 by the self-appointed Bishop Edir Macedo, the Universal Church today is a multinational empire with about 800 [churches] and 2,000 pastors in Brazil, branches in five U.S. cities, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, Portugal and Angola, and control of a TV network and several radio stations in Brazil."
CRI Brazil director Paulo Romeiro considers the group aberrant, citing its constant use of syncretistic gimmicks like "holy salt" and vials of Holy Land oil "with a drop of the blood of Jesus." The UCKG also promotes an unscriptural emphasis on healing on demand and purports to cast demons out of Christians and non-Christians alike.
Brazil Prayer Alert
As the Newsletter went to press, final preparations were being made for CRI's annual evangelistic outreach to tens of thousands of Afro-Brazilian spiritists on the beaches of Sao Paulo, to be held on December 7-8. Pray with us for the lives of those touched by this outreach!
-- Paul Carden
End of document, CRN0037A.TXT (original CRI file name), "Research Notes" and "International" release A, June 30, 1994 R. Poll, CRI
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